(Taken at Pringle Bay)
If you’re wanting to get away from it all, and I mean REALLY away, then carry on reading.
I’m not actually going to say much about this holiday destination because I’d rather let the pictures do the talking, but what I can say is that there is a certain kind of peace in the Transkei that is difficult to find elsewhere. Rolling green hills that open up into long stretches of untouched private beaches, roaming cows and horses, fireflies, bonfires and stars as far as you can see. No signal, no electricity. The more difficult it is to get to, the more beautiful and tranquil it will be, I assure you, so don’t pick the easiest spot.
These pictures were taken on a recent short break in a spot near the Ntafufu river mouth, only accessible by 4×4 and a boat (we all took normal cars, not realising how bad the last stretch of road really was and had to be towed out – well worth the adventure, though!). They don’t call it the Wild Coast for nothing, hey 😉
Be ready to rough it, but also be ready to find your peace in the process.
- The ‘c’ is pronounced as a ‘th’ sound, so it’s actually Valen’th’ia.
- Valencia is a Province and the City of Valencia is within this Province. Gandia, which I wrote about before, is in the Province of Valencia. It’s all very confusing, I know.
- Valencia is the home of the paella (‘ll’ is pronounced as ‘y’, so it’s a mind-twisting ‘paeya’ when said correctly). The traditional Valencian paella is with rabbit and chicken.
- Valencia is also the home of some pretty good oranges. You’ll see fresh orange juice machines at most coffee shops.
- There was once a river running through the middle of the city, which has now been turned into park areas. It’s a bit strange to hang out in a park with traffic on either side of you, but it’s quite novel and really pretty. It also provides plenty of space for people to walk their dogs (it seems like every resident owns a dog). Beware of the poop.
- The pretty beach of Valencia is hidden behind the city, almost like it’s a secret. The city is built as if it’s not there.
- You can get a massage on the beach.
- You can drink on the beach (suggest tinto de verano for this exercise).
- You can most definitely be topless on the beach.
- The only ugly part of this beautiful city is the bull ring (to the left of the train station in the pic below), where bull fighting is still an accepted part of local culture and provides regular entertainment for locals and tourists alike. I like to refer to it as ‘The Ring of Death’ and am pleased to report that popularity for this heinous ‘sport’ is dwindling. Perhaps one day we will see it gone for good.
- It is the home of Fallas – the biggest fireworks festival in the world, in March every year. The whole city stops for the duration of this festival to enjoy the people, the food, the fireworks, the music and the party. They even have a band that walks around the streets waking people up with their music to start the party again each day. This is on my bucket list for sure (before health and safety get involved – it’s not something you’ll see allowed just anywhere!).
- La Tomatina festival happens every year in August, which is basically one big tomato throwing fight. I didn’t take part, but the locals tell me that it has become more of a British and Australian tourist event and the locals don’t really attend anymore. It used to be free, but now has ticket sales managed through tour operators. Not ideal, eh?
- 24 hour vending machines for sex emergencies.
- Almost nobody works for the whole of August. The whole city (and country) takes the month off over the summer. I can understand why. One day it reached 46’C. You can’t move in that heat.
- Lladro… Oh Lladro. Beautiful hand crafted porcelain. This stuff is breath-takingly beautiful. You must see it in real life. These are my two favourite pieces from the showroom (pics from their website):
- Mansion of Marquis of Dos Aguas. A museum of sorts now, but you can tour this elaborate and beautiful old mansion for only €3. I absolutely love old stuff – where care was taken in the crafting of everything and it was all about who can make it better, not who can make it cheaper. This is a perfect example. The walls, the ceilings, the furniture, the adornments – all exquisite. I just loved it and can totally see myself living there (hee hee).
I will miss you, Valencia, but this is not the last you’ll see of me!
Useful things to do with long hair when travelling:
- Use it as a sun shield when walking around in the sun. Not much worse than a sunburnt neck with a beautiful round t-shirt line on the first day of your holiday
- Use it in place of a scarf on the plane and in over-air conditioned airports to save space in your hand luggage
- Let the sea help make you look like a mermaid
- Plonk it on top of your head in a messy bun for that ‘I’m on holiday and well travelled’ look.
This may be the most useful post that I have written. You’re welcome.
As much as I love traveling and exploring, it’s always good to come home.
Although this is true, leaving the life you are comfortable with from time to time is essential to a healthy life and gives perspective (else you get stuck in your little bubble and forget that there is a world out there.)
Here’s some of what I’m happy to come home to:
Exercise and healthy eating. My Spanish holiday diet of oily tapas, pastries for breakfast and tinto de verano/clara (half beer, half lemon sparkling water) all day has taken its’ toll
- This face
- South African men. Except the skinny jeans, full beard and strange half-shaved heads ones in Cape Town – what exactly is that about?
- My mountains and my sea
- Grabbing my bicycle and riding out somewhere beautiful, just on my doorstep
- Mild temperature
- Rain and moisture in the air (the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. I clearly wasn’t on the plain.)
- A decent schedule that involves getting up before 9am and going to sleep before 2am. Dinner before 10pm will also be nice.
- I also miss my work, my clients, my colleagues (yay!)
- Understanding the language of the city I live in! If you travel to Spain, you’ve got to learn some of the language else you don’t fully take in the culture
- I miss the tiny little beaches of the Cape southern peninsula – the sea that takes your breath away when you get in and tingles your skin when you get out.
- I miss hipster restaurants where chairs don’t match and the menu oddly always has some beetroot.
- Vegetarian food that doesn’t have canned tuna in it
- South African cheese and wine
- My home, my stuff, my bathroom, my wild lavender, fynbos, my takkies and my beauty therapist (she’s got a big job ahead of her after this trip!). Am sick of airports, planes, trains, busses, someone else’s house, my suitcase.
- Overpriced, completely incorrectly made coffee. I’m lying about this one, I miss proper European coffee already (around €1,10 for the best coffee, made correctly and enjoyed on a street sidewalk cafe under the trees, chatting away). Truth coffee can kiss my ass.
I’m home baby, and it feels GOOD! I heart South Africa and I especially heart Cape Town. Muchos gratitude.
If you happen to find yourself hanging around in Gandia and feel like one big night out in Ibiza, it’s very possible to do. Here’s how:
- Grab a bus in Gandia and head to Denia
- Spend some time wandering around the old streets of Denia. It’s such a pretty little town. You’ll also find some good tapas, coffee and cocktails.
- You’ll need to grab the ferry at the port. You will have needed to pre-purchase your ferry tickets and if you have some decent Spanish, phone ahead to book and find out their special deals. We booked tickets leaving at 5pm and returning at 7am the next morning at half the price because of a special overnight deal, so it’s worth looking into.
- The best news is that there is a pool on the top deck of the ferry and a bar with normal drinks prices not yet hiked up to Ibiza drinks prices. Winning. Also, sunset.
- When you dock in Ibiza, head to the town (you can walk there – it’s about half an hour and you can stop along the way for a drink). You can buy your tickets for the clubs pretty much anywhere around the and grab a cab to the club (the party only starts at around 1am in any case so you can take your time).
- Then do what you will and make sure you don’t miss the morning ferry and then do the whole trip backwards again and sleep through it all. Easy peasy!
This was Amnesia.
You’re not too old for one night in Ibiza, my friends. Just find a good way to justify it. Mine was all ‘when in Spain’….
*Warning… Ibiza is EXPENSIVE. €10 for a bottle of water (as opposed to around €1 anywhere else). So you really want to get in and out as quickly as possible!
Thursday 21 August 09.50am:
The friend I’m rooming with wakes me up to say the cleaners are coming in 10 minutes so must get out of bed. I groan at her, annoyed that we must get up at this ridiculous hour. To be fair, she did get an early night last night – around midnight – but that’s just ridiculous for a Spanish schedule. Think we should have a chat.
Thursday 21 August 11.05am:
Potentially breakfast time. Friends have gone out to grab some fresh croissants from the bakery down the road. The heat outside is fierce. Our plan for the day is to get to the beach. I need a Cortado. Will attempt lilo surfing again today in inappropriate string bikini.
I haven’t even had a paella yet! Valencia is the home of paella. This must happen today.
Thursday 21 August 9.30pm:
This is what happened today. That’s it. Paella still a possibility.
Friday 22 August 2.25am:
Paella and Fideua (like paella, but with pasta kind of noodles instead of rice) has been annihilated. The traditional Valencian paella is rabbit and chicken. I don’t eat bunnies or chickens so opted for the Fedua… Mmmmmmm. Walking along the promenade and there are loads of people about, walking their dogs and kids and babies in strollers. Feels like the twilight zone.
Friday 22 August 3.09pm:
1 coffee, 1 swim in the pool and 1 siesta down. Time for lunch and another siesta before heading off to beach party at Oli Baba in Oliva. It’s tough. Fully adjusted to the Spanish schedule now and have slowed down to adjust to the intense heat.
Struggling to find the energy to blog.
Wednesday 20 August 12.26am:
Had to think about what day it is.
Tuesday 19 August 6.14am:
Things about Valencia (and Spain in general) that I have discovered that I love (so far):
– Siesta. Lunch and sleep time from about 2pm to 5pm, ish. Best idea ever.
– Tinto de verano. Because Sangria and I have a long and fruitful relationship. This must only happen on the beach.
– Found something better than a Cortado: Carajillo (Cortado with Baileys). I kid you not.
– Tomate. Because tomatoes are awesome. La Tomatino Festival is coming up next week too, perhaps a last minute plan to go throw tomatoes around is in order.
– Bare it all on the beach. It’s all there, you have nothing new to add so just get it out there.
– It’s 6.15 and feels like 1pm.
– Spanish men
My Spanish has improved dramatically. No longer stare in fright when spoken to – I attempt some Spanish and I think it comes out half decent. Un tinto de verano por favor.
New bikini also not suitable for wave surfing with a lilo. Neither are the other 3 I packed.
Monday 18 August 2.16am:
I’ve had worse Mondays. This is an acceptable bed time. I’m in Gandia – south of Valencia. Today was a blur of coffee, walking, country scenery through a train window, sunset on the beach, food, wine, terrace night caps. I think that the shorts get shorter the further down south of the coast you go, but this has not yet been scientifically proven. I also walked past a Calzedonia this morning in Valencia city, only to see that they are having a 50% sale. Bought another bikini I don’t really need and damaged the daily budget again. Maybe I should relook at that starvation idea.